Deafness is a subject rarely dealt with in feature films, and that subject matter is one reason why "CODA" has been getting a lot of attention. HCC film professors Marie Westhaver and Mike Giuliano share their enjoyment of the film in this podcast episode. Set within the fishing community of Gloucester, Mass., the film concerns a 17-year-old woman named Ruby who is the only member of her family who can hear. She is a vital communications link between her family and the rest of the town, and so her plans to go to college create uncertainty within the family. Marie and Mike were especially impressed by the central performance by Emilia Jones as Ruby. This British actor not only learned an American accent, but also learned American Sign Language so that Ruby can interact with the other family members. "CODA" is well worth seeing. In this episode, Marie also talks about a documentary about painter Bob Ross and Mike talks about the new version of "Candyman." By the way, Mike refuses to look in a mirror and say "Candyman" five times.
Movie theater audiences have been applauding the Aretha Franklin biopic "Respect," in which Jennifer Hudson is convincing as that greatest of soul singers. In this podcast episode, HCC film professors Marie Westhaver and Mike Giuliano raise their own voices to praise the film. Although Mike has a few reservations about the script, he shares Marie's enthusiastic response to many aspects of this movie about an amazing performer. Marie and Mike encourage you to see this movie. By contrast, they encourage you to skip the other movie discussed in this episode, "The Suicide Squad," in which raw language, graphic violence and a witless story make for a grueling experience. As superhero movies go, it is not super. Moreover, such talented actors as Idris Elba, Margot Robbie and Viola Davis are wasted. Oh, well, Marie and Mike watched "The Suicide Squad" in order to tell you it's not worth watching.
Val Kilmer became a star with such movies as "Top Gun" (1986), "The Doors" (1991) and "Batman Forever" (1995). He is now essentially the star of a new documentary about his career, the aptly titled "Val." In this podcast episode, HCC film professors Marie Westhaver and Mike Giuliano discuss a career in which this handsome actor played strong, silent types. The documentary incorporates home movies and video diaries shot by Kilmer himself, and so it really seems like a self-portrait. Kilmer's recent health-related issues are dealt with in an open and emotionally moving way. Another actor who qualifies as a strong, silent type is Matt Damon. In "Stillwater," he portrays an Oklahoma oil rig worker who goes to France in an attempt to get his young adult daughter (played by Abigail Breslin) out of prison. Although Marie enjoyed this movie a bit more than Mike did, they both agree that it is a well-acted drama you will want to place on your to-watch list.
Very loosely based on a 14th-century poem, "The Green Knight" is an example of pop cultural medievalism. In this podcast episode, HCC film professors Marie Westhaver and Mike Giuliano discuss a visually and thematically murky movie that suffers from a slow pace. Although Marie and Mike had plenty of quibbles about "The Green Knight," this quest narrative did hold their interest. They agree that what really kept them watching was the convincing performance by Dev Patel as Gawain, whose lowly status at King Arthur's Round Table is made even more tenuous by his confrontation with a walking tree known as the Green Knight. Marie and Mike also talk about a very different quest narrative in "Jungle Cruise." Based on a theme park ride, this busy adventure stars Dwayne Johnson as a river boat captain whose passengers include Emily Blunt as a botanist seeking a rare flower with curative powers. Mike thought that the non-stop thrills and constant pop cultural references became tedious after awhile, but he agreed with Marie that "Jungle Cruise" does have the entertainment value of, well, a theme park ride.